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Mobile, Tablet Growth Highlights Google's Q1 Data

Published: April 16, 2014

Author: Bob Sturges

Google introduced Enhanced Campaigns in February 2013; adoption was predictably slow for the first couple of months before mandatory switch-over late in the summer. Year-over-year comparisons in Q1 data show that Google’s not-so-subtle shove in the back towards a multi-device world has worked; we compared data sets from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014, in both search and Google Display Network campaigns, and saw huge (and, in some cases, forced) shifts toward mobile and tablet spend.
Our year-over-year search comparisons across devices (impressions totaling 1.95B in Q1 2013 and 2.48B in Q1 2014):


-Click volume increase 17%
-CPCs decrease 6%
-Impressions increase 12%
-9% increase in cost
-CTR improves 5%


-Click volume increase 160%
-CPCs decrease by 8%
-Impressions increase 130%
-139% increase in cost
-CTR improves 13%


-Click volume increase  93%
-CPCs decrease by 24%
-Impressions increase 86%
-47% increase in cost
-CTR improves 4%

-CTR’s increased by 8% YoY (all devices)
-Avg CPCs decreased 12%

The big takeaways here are what’s going on in Mobile and Tablet.  Mobile growth was absolutely huge, which is a combination of Google making it easier to opt into mobile in a more conservative/responsible manner, and more of our clients updating their sites to match an increasingly mobile world.  The tablet jump is even more predictable; Enhanced Campaigns opted us into tablet bidding by coupling tablets and desktops with no exclusion feature.  In 2013, many of our accounts didn’t run any ads on tablets; in Q1 2014, they had no choice.
My guess for the reason behind CPC drops on the tablet side is increasing adoption of Google’s improved Conversion Optimizer bid settings. Tablets are likely to carry a lower conversion rate, so in an ideal world, Conversion Optimizer would adjust its bids between desktop/tablet accordingly. After Enhanced Campaigns were launched but before Conversion Optimizer was fine-tuned enough to prove effective, we would frequently opt desktop campaigns into tablet as well, leveraging the same bid.
Subtle CTR improvements are likely a combination of ongoing optimizations, increased emphasis, and variety by Google on ad extensions.
Our year-over-year Google Display Network comparisons across devices (impressions totaling 3.51B  in Q1 2013 and 3.78B in Q1 2014):


-Click volume increase 1%
-CPCs increase 12%
-Impressions decrease 9%
-13% increase in cost


-Click volume increase 82%
-CPCs increase by 3%
-Impressions increase 52%
-87% increase in cost


-Click volume increase  138%
-CPCs decrease by 14%
-Impressions increase 98%
-104% increase in cost

-Overall CPCs remained constant
-CTR increased 20% YoY

There’s a very similar story here: mobile and tablet growth vastly outweighing desktop growth.  Mobile growth not as significant for the GDN as it was in search; our bidding on mobile was generally much less aggressive because the quality of mobile GDN traffic does not match with what we see on desktop.
Since adoption of Enhanced Campaigns was more widespread in Q2 of 2013, we may not see the same level of year-over-year growth for the next quarter. But the trends of mobile and tablet growth, in both search and display, are bound to continue for some time.

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